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Tobacconomics Announces New International Partnerships to Reduce Global Tobacco Use

Tobacconomics tax policy experts today announced new partnership agreements with six international organizations to conduct economic research that will help inform and shape tobacco control policies in 14 countries in Asia, Latin America and South Eastern Europe.

Through this partnership with Tobacconomics policy researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago's (UIC) Institute for Health Research and Policy, the six international organizations will engage in research to produce local evidence on the economic impacts of tobacco taxation.

UIC professor Frank J. Chaloupka, who directs the Tobacconomics team, announced the new partnerships at the closing session of the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Cape Town, South Africa, on March 9.

The new international partners and the target countries in which they will work are: PRAKARSA and the Tax Centre at the University of Indonesia (Indonesia); Institute of Public Policy and Management (IPPM) at the National Economics University (NEU) and the Development and Policies Research Center (Vietnam); South American Network on Applied Economics/Red Sur (Red Sudamericana de Economía Aplicada/Red Sur) which will cover Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru; and the Institute of Economic Sciences which will cover Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. The UIC-based Tobacconomics research team will provide technical assistance to the international partners.

Chaloupka said the six new international partners will focus on building country-level economic evidence to inform policy makers on efforts to reduce tobacco use and save lives using fiscal policies.

According to the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Cancer Institute, raising tobacco taxes is a win-win strategy for all countries, but especially low- and middle-income countries, which account for 80% of the six million people that die each year from tobacco use. Evidence from around the world shows that higher taxes and prices reduce tobacco use and bring in new revenues, which can finance health and development efforts.

“Tobacco taxes and prices are low in many countries and big increases in taxes are needed to make tobacco less affordable. The fear of illicit trade is not a reason to avoid raising tobacco taxes,” according to Chaloupka. “Many countries have raised tobacco taxes, reduced tobacco use, and increased revenues, while improving tax administration to reduce illicit trade,” he said.

“Policy makers in individual countries are not easily convinced by global-level evidence. They need economic evidence from their own country or region, developed by local and credible institutions. That is exactly what we hope will happen as a result of these new agreements,” Chaloupka said.

UIC is a core partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. The Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative’s main goals are to raise awareness of the harms caused by tobacco and assist low and middle-income countries implement strong tobacco control policies to reduce tobacco use. Over the past ten years, the initiative has supported 59 countries in passing tobacco control laws or policies, reaching nearly 3.5 billion people and saving an estimated 30 million lives.